Gaining Understanding Through Concept Mapping

Our Rapid Ideation and Creative Problem Solving class this quarter will be centered around learning creative problem solving methods through redesigning the Honeywell Prestige Thermostat… six times.
Before we can redesign this overly complex system, however, we must understand the current system as is.¬† One way to do this is by visualizing the content and functionalities of the system in a single diagram called a concept model. This concept map details the main sections of the inferface as well as the hierarchical relationships between sections and features. In the process of creating this model, I tried to simplify multiple screens while still capturing the depth of the whole experience. Here’s the concept model I created of the current system:


It is clear that Honeywell has incorporated many advanced functions into this thermostat. While this may attract some advanced users, I believe these additional features¬† would not be used by the majority of users who primarily interested in comfortably and efficiently heating or cooling their home. A thermostat used to be a relatively simple device. You could adjust your home’s temperature, toggle between off, cool, and heat mode, and turn your fan on, off, or to auto. As time has gone on, thermostats have been designed to incorporate new functionalities that seem like a good idea conceptually, but fall short in their understanding of the typical user experience. Who wants to stand at their thermostat for more than a few seconds at a time?
Reflecting on the typical user experience, I believe an ideal thermostat would have ease of use as a secondary goal. The following ideal state concept model resulted:


This simplification of the existing system refocuses attention back to its intended primary goal: heating and cooling the home. As a secondary goal, my redesign emphasizes energy efficiency through an indicator on the home screen, so that users adjust to be more environmentally friendly and save money at the same time.
This ideal concept model will be continually revised as we receive feedback from our user testing, but it provides a framework to create wireframes from.